Y.A. Novel Demonstrates that Addiction Does Not Discriminate

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

While some of the content in Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy Padula is more mature and perhaps not what school boards look for when selecting books for the classroom, it depicts a realistic and important story of teenagers, trying to find a balance between their morals and human nature.

Many of the teens in this book find themselves split between wanting to do something, such as engaging with their peers through drinking or other ways, but feeling that they cannot due to personal or religious morals. This is a common struggle that many teens find themselves in, and while finding a balance is not always an easy journey, it is an important part of this time in life, and learning how to stay true to yourself while also being able to engage in activities with your peers is a valuable lesson to learn at this age. 

This book is very eye opening on the topics of drug abuse, and sheds light on how this can impact anyone. In Blindsided characters from the previous book who had adamantly expressed their views against drugs have now lost these values, leading them down dangerous paths. This book shows how involving yourself in bad situations at an impressionable age can lead to bad decisions, even life-altering ones. Even those who would seemingly be the “least susceptible” are able to be roped into bad situations, leading to even worse consequences, showing how drug addiction does not discriminate, and anyone is at risk. 

However, hope is shown as some characters begin making better choices. In the 2nd “Gripped” book, we see protagonist Taylor Dunkin on a much better path. Taylor now seems to be much more level headed, as he tries to return to college and reconcile with some estranged family members. I feel that this book has made me gain more respect for Taylor, as I see that he is now making a great effort to reconnect with his family and make things right again. However, I do think that the next few books will open up a dangerous time for Taylor, as we see briefly with the police investigation into his drug dealing, and the other outside factors that could prove to be dangerous. 

After the last book, I felt that Chris Dunkin was an irresponsible, bad influence on many of the other characters. However, now I do see many redeeming qualities in Chris, and I feel a great amount of sympathy for his situation. Now, as he tries to get clean from drugs after a scary situation, I think that his future is looking much brighter—if he maintains a sober path.

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs. After hosting a party, Chris awakes with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

About Maya Daly

Maya is a junior at Duxbury High School, where she is a member of the Varsity Rowing Team. In school, she is a part of the yearbook club, Best Buddies club, and Habitat for Humanity. She enjoys studying English and history, and plans to major in one of those subjects in college. 

Published by Author Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula has spent the last 13 years working daily with teenagers as a college counselor, mentor, and life coach. She was named Top Inspirational Author of the Year for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals (New York, NY). In 2021, she was broadcast on the famous Reuters Building in Times Square as Empowered Woman of the Year. Her Gripped book series is currently being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman. She is the founder and CEO of Briley & Baxter Publications-a publishing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues each month. She has edited and published a variety of titles, including Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Todd Angilly and Rachel Goguen's The Adventures of Owen & the Anthem Singer, LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix's Last Chance U's Nate & His Magic Lion, and former NHL player Norm Beaudin's upcoming memoir The Original: Living Life Through Hockey.